Monday, October 3, 2011

Goldring Travel's 2011 Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Sojourn - Part VIII


We arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine to the rude awakening of a face-to-face United States Immigration inspection.  U.S. citizens and permanent residents in the Grand Salon and non-U.S. citizens in The Club…and then the entire crew were required to present themselves.  This could have put a kink in the planned private Shopping with Chef  Rajat, but Seabourn came through form me and had him clear Immigration as the first crew member. 

We tendered into the (formerly?) sleepy town of Bar Harbor.  I was shocked by the waterfront having been essentially totally torn down with condominiums along the entire length being constructed.  Fortunately, the main shopping streets are still filled with many interesting and funky shops ranging from artists offerings to hemp offerings to food and wine offerings.  But before that:   Shopping with the Chef.  (The rest of the ship has its own Shopping with Chef Marcus scheduled for Boston…where we will be having a special exclusive event at the New England Aquarium).

We head off to Parson’s Lobster and Fish Market located about five minutes outside of town.  Because of the limited minivan taxis in town, we have to shuttle our group, with Chef Rajat coming in the last taxi.  I see a house and essentially a large garage guarded by a hyperactive boxer (is there any other kind?) behind a tall fence. 

And then out came Diane.  She is everything you ever thought of as the typical Mainer.  She had no idea we were coming, but was like, “OK.  So you are here.  What can I do for you?”  After Chef Rajat explained our purpose (and that he was going to be purchasing things), her tough charm just came out.  She had incredible knowledge and patience, explaining everything she could when someone asked a question.  Because of my marine biology background I know a lot about lobsters, clams and mussels and Diane was perfectly fine with me handling all of it, doing my own explaining and enjoying myself. 




After explaining that lobsters migrate for up to hundreds of miles, so the lobsters found in Canada are the same lobsters that you might find in Maine, the subtle prejudice/sales pitch came out.  Diane just happened to mention that Canadian lobsters have larger claws than Maine lobsters.   This probably meant nothing to most people, but I knew what she was on about:  People generally find tail meat to be far better than claw meat, so obviously Maine lobsters, with their allegedly smaller claws, have pound-for-pound more tail meat.  I said nothing.

Our discussions then went to the issue of whether smaller lobsters have sweeter meat than larger lobsters.  I laid out what I understand the reason may well be and she responded, in her best Mainer:  “That’s a theory.” (a/k/a “I think you are full of it.”)  We had a good laugh with that one.


Chef Rajat then purchased some lobsters, steamer clams and mussels for the Food & Wine Tasting in two days (at less than $6.00 a pound for lobsters…less than the cost of a meal at McDonald’s) and then it was off to downtown Bar Harbor for a rather quick visit as the Seabourn Sojourn is departing at 2:00 p.m.

After picking up some souvenirs, some of my guests wanted to know what this thing they kept seeing called a Lobster Roll was.  It was the perfect excuse to have one of those hot dog like rolls filled with lightly dressed chunks of lobster along with a beer at Rupununi’s while enjoying the still unseasonably warm and sunny day.


A bit more of a stroll, but before return to the ship, one of crew that I have seen rise through the ranks remembered the pizza we brought him back a couple of years ago while out for the day.  We could not disappoint him, so we brought him a lobster roll at The Lobster Claw…and I bought a fried clam roll for me!

Back on board I (with some cheek) ate my clam roll at The Patio Grill and then made the final adjustments for tomorrow’s Goldring Travel Exclusive New England Aquarium Food & Wine Event. 

Needing to relax I, along with my friend, sought to break the Seabourn record for the most consecutive hours in the forward hot tub:  Four Hours.  Honestly, with lobster buoys everywhere, birds soaring, fins breaking the water’s surface, warm sun and my GPS showing our approaching Great Cranberry Island (made famous in the excellent book The Secret Lives of Lobsters, which all of my clients received a copy of), the time just flew by.

Afterwards, and quite waterlogged, I was invited dine with Jorge Grossman, the Hotel Manager, for the Chef’s Dinner.  While I have not generally bored you with the menus or where I have been dining (which I will discuss a bit in a separate article), the Chef’s Dinner menu is worth setting out so that you can see that the cuisine has maintained its high (and delicious) standards:

Tuna Tartar with Mallosal Caviar
White Plum Tomato Cappuccino
Wild Mushroom Ravioli
Celeriac Sorbet
Fresh Nova Scotia Lobster from Halifax Market
or
While Roasted Thyme Crusted Beef Tenderloin Pancetta Crisp
Dark Chocolate Cone with Grilled Pineapple
Selection of Home Made Swiss Chocolates

The only thing more delightful than the food was the charming Australian woman who was sitting to my right who was traveling with her daughter.  It was a lovely evening.